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  1. Default Headed East From Colorado...looking for something different.

    Hey everyone,
    I am not a stranger to the road and have quite enough experience on road trips. Seems here in Colorado you spend a lot of time road trippin from place to place. But this summer we are headed home to No. Virginia for 3 weeks. I have a little wiggle room as far as route goes but do want to get there timely. I realize Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma are pretty much going to be the same (I have made the cross country straight through trip 3 times) But this time I am looking for something different in about 3 days leaving on a Saturday. I am a photography buff and this is a Mother/Daughter (15yrs) I am hoping for some cool landscape, history photos-I like old stuff. So far I have book lodging the first night in Omaha but this can be changed...but since we will be headed back in 3 weeks via Johnson City Tenn. I figured we would go south a bit on the way back.

    I haven't been north and would love to do that...But will it cost me in time to head any further north than Chicago and come down? Have never been to Chicago but really don't want to end up in grid lock...but would love to see the shore there. So any thoughts on back roads, small towns, ideal country to see on the way to DC? I really don't like touristy things....I am an off the beaten path kind of traveler who like unique over much anything.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default The old highways.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    ... any thoughts on back roads, small towns, ideal country to see ...
    Back roads and small towns are often best found along the old US highways, such as US-20, US-30 and US-50.

    To me KS, OK and NE are each unique. True, there are many similarities. But if you were to take the US-2 or US-20 across the sandhills in NE that is a unique landscape with a unique history. You don't say where in CO you are starting from, so I don't know if that would be along your route. Similarly with US-50 and US-400 across KS, especially if you took a little time to explore Greensburg and Dodge City, and maybe even call in and see how Joplin MO is rebuilding, after its tornado.

    I am not as familiar with OK so can't comment there, but I am sure a little research would show you that it too would have unique landscape and small towns along the back roads.

    Of course reading up a little on these areas always helps to enhance the trip. Especially the history of the dustbowl, which affected all this area. I always find that knowing a little about the history of the region through which I drive makes for a much more interesting trip.

    Only today I drove across IA on US-20 and saw the many great vistas which would make such wonderful photos. Unfortunately, my camera is in for repairs.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 06-09-2014 at 03:49 PM. Reason: added info.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Start Early, Stop Often

    What you find on your travels will, in large measure, depend on what you expect and are willing to find. A perfect example is your statement that "Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma are pretty much going to be the same." Now that might be true (sort of) if all you do is stick to the Interstates and watch the corn, wheat, and other fields zoom by at 75+ mph. But poke around a bit and you'll find both historic sites and cool landscapes. Case in point: your initial leg to Omaha follows the alignment of the old Oregon Trail along the Platte River. Take the time for some short stops at Ash Hollow, O'Fallon's Bluff, and Fort Kearney, and even consider heading north to the Bridgeport NE area to see Chimney and Courthouse/Jail Rocks before using Us-26 to rejoin I-80. And remember that for much of the length of Nebraska you have the option of using US-30 instead of I-80 with very little loss in time.

    Since you're looking at three and a half to four days for the drive to northern Virginia, you might want to spend the extra couple of hours and go through St. Louis on the way east, getting there via I-29/I-70 from Omaha. This would set you up for using I-64 all the way to Virginia on 'new' road. Even without major stops, you can still get a sense of the country you're traveling through, as well as learn a bit of history and find some photo ops, by stopping at smaller parks near the highway.

    With only five or six days, you could get as far south as Atlanta and Dallas is you budget your time appropriately. This would let you see the Appalachians, the Blue Ridge Parkway, any number of Civil War and Revolutionary battle sites, old south plantations, Native American History, etc., etc., etc.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default For example:

    Today I drove US-20 from Waterloo IA to Sioux City IA - 210 miles and 3.5 hrs. My only stop was for a traffic light in the vicinity of Correctionville. Unfortunately my camera is in for repairs, but I could have stopped every 10 or 15 minutes for a wonderful photo opportunity.

    There was a stunning small church with a modest spire, right by the eastbound lane, between mile post 189 and 190. Painted a pristine white it sat atop a small elevation in a field of emerald green with a backdrop of dark green trees. The small cemetery between the road and church completed the picture. I hope to one day get back to take a photo there.

    Likewise there were many times the landscape either side of the road could well have come from a post card, or a picture on a jig saw puzzle. Wonderful farm houses, barns and silos set among clusters of trees in the middle of the wide open spaces, all a brilliant green. It was magnificent.

    Every now and then there was a barn which looked like it was at the end of its life, standing there, begging to be photographed for posterity, before it completely tumbles down and returns to whence it came.

    Such a memorable day on the road.


  5. Default

    Thank you for the ideas. I think I will spend some road time in IA. Decide to head down from Davenport south along the river road just past St Louis into Bowling Green KY. Having trouble though from there...any scenic route doesn't seem to be able to catch the highway easily. Does anyone have any thoughts on Roads through KY into WVa and/Or Va. And actually I think out St Louis I am open for suggestions...Would I be missing something on the northern route to DC? I thought PA might be nice. Again, all I have driven 3x is 70/64/81/66. Hoping to pass through those quintessential small towns with a town square and local diner...somewhere along the way. I want to show my daughter that there really is more than the local Mall;)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Maybe on the way back.

    If you will be travelling back to CO, I would highly recommend you plan to go via Pennsylvania. So many lovely small towns and scenic roads.


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